I started learning chess seriously around 20 years ago. During high school, I read a few chess books and went over hundreds and hundreds of games played by chess Grandmasters (GM). At the same time, I played rapid online chess (blitz) on websites such as Yahoo! Games. In blitz games, each player has less than 10 minutes to make all his moves. Some examples of blitz time: 2+0 (two minutes without increment), 3+2 (three minutes with a two-second increment after each move), 5+3 (five minutes with a three-second increment after each move).
Even though I enjoyed learning and studying the game, during a period of five or six years (my “formal training”) I only took lessons with a private tutor for a few months. I did most of my learning on my own, reading books, and going over Chessbase annotated games and tutorials. Also, I never played a rated (ELO) tournament. Later on, in my early thirties (as I’m writing this in 2021 I’m 34 years old) I would participate in a handful of semi-rapid chess tournaments that started and finished on the same day.
More than 10 years ago I started playing on Chess.com. According to the stats of the website, between 2011 and 2019 I played a total of 8058 blitz games (it’s possible I played there before 2011 as well, but the stats don’t show any data prior to 2011). My last blitz ELO on Chess.com was 2070 points.
This is how it looks like:
Chess.com Stats (years 2011-2019)
March 2019 was the last month I played on Chess.com. At that time I started playing on Lichess.org, and since that moment I continued playing there. From April 2019 up until now (January 2021) I played a grand total of 4156 blitz games on Lichess. My current rating is 2218.
Liches.org Stats (years 2019-2021)
The Learning Project: Chess in Italian
I’ve been thinking for some time now about getting back to studying chess. During the past 10-15 years, I haven’t studied much, other than occasionally practicing tactics. My blitz rating gradually increased from 1800 points (in the year 2011) to a whopping ~2200 points (in 2019). After playing thousands of games and trying to match up with stronger players, I’ve noticed a slow but consistent progress. On Lichess.org, in 2020 I made it a point to set the pairing settings to be matched with players with a difference of -50 or +150 in ELO rating -that is, players in the range of 2150 to 2350 points. Playing most of the time with stronger players is uncomfortable and not so funny as playing with lower-ranked players… but that’s how we learn the most. Or, at least, that’s what I like to think 🙂
Two years ago I made a very short attempt to get better at blitz games and researched a bit about chess software. Back then I tried to devise a training regime to improve on my weak areas. I intended to study and analyze my games in order to learn from them and stop making the same mistakes over and over. This attempt didn’t pan out. I didn’t know how to go about it, what to study, how, for how long, etc. Later on, I would find out I needed a chess coach.
In December 2020 I thought about getting back to this chess training goal. But this time I would try something different. I would ask for help. A Fide Master (FM), an International Master (IM) or even a Grandmaster (GM). To make it more fun I added a twist on it: I’d take chess lessons in Italian. Why in Italian? Because that’s one of the languages I’m learning and trying to get better at. So, why not? I started learning Italian in late 2019 and from early 2020 I regularly have conversations in the language. At this point (January 2021), I’m at an upper-intermediate level (B1/B2), and I feel confident about taking chess lessons in Italian. It adds an extra challenge to the project and makes it more interesting overall.
So, I went to the Lichess.org Coaches’ listings and looked for an Italian Grandmaster (GM). One of the players/coaches I found there was the GM Andrea Stella. I reached out to him, arranged my first lesson, and got started. I intend to continue taking weekly lessons for at least the next three months. On top of that, I will study each day for one hour (except the day of the weekly lesson), according to the guidance and recommendations of my teacher, using the resources, materials, games, and positions provided by him.
My Goal: Practice every day + Weekly lesson
I don’t have a specific rating goal to achieve by the end of March. For this learning project, instead of setting a “milestone” goal, I thought of setting a “habit” goal. The habit I want to build is to study chess every day for one hour and take a weekly lesson. If I stick to it over a period of many months, I believe my playing -and, as a result, my rating- will improve.
I’m very excited to see where this daily training and weekly chess lessons in Italian will take me. Sono contento! 🙂